Friday, March 29, 2013

What a Difference an Embassy Makes

For the past two weeks, we've been staying on the Embassy Compound in Moscow as part of a job swap John did with a coworker. It's been a wonderful opportunity for all parties involved - John is getting to experience the work of an entry level political/economic officer at a large embassy, his colleague is getting to see the ups and downs of life as THE pol/econ officer at a small consulate, and Jack is getting to spend a few weeks in an excellent daycare with American kids!

Oh, and I get to work in the Community Liaison Office here too, attempting to help one of the CLOs who has WAY more experience than me and hardly needs my help. Fortunately, they are short a newsletter editor (yes, that's actually a separate job at large posts), and I'm getting to help out with that. Plus we can take care of a few things we simply can't do in Yekat, like visiting the med unit, and dry cleaning.

One of the real perks of being at the Embassy is getting face time with your supervisors, from your direct supervisor all the way up to the head honcho. We have been lucky enough to go to Spaso House, the Ambassador's residence, twice since we've been here. For entry level officers at an embassy, there are many opportunities to volunteer to work at events, but we don't have that advantage. Fortunately, the Deputy Chief of Mission has been great to those of us at the consulates in Russia and really watches out for us. She's made sure John and I are included in things we wouldn't normally be included in. I particularly appreciate it since EFMs have even fewer opportunities than officers. Here are a few photos from Spaso House over the past two weeks.

Amb. McFaul and his wife dancing (rt) at Spaso House to the Quebe Sisters.


Amb. McFaul speaking at a Town Hall meeting for American citizens.
Me in front of Spaso House, located in the heart of Moscow.
It's been nice having access to the commissary, to being part of a much larger social circle than exists in Yekaterinburg, and feeling like a part of a real community. On the downside, John is already working longer hours here than he does in Yekat. I wouldn't even have a CLO job if I weren't at a small post most likely (although maybe that newsletter job would have worked out...), and it's a little claustrophobic always being around your colleagues, even outside of work (most Moscow employees do not live on compound, but for those who do, it's kind of like living on a military base). Just today I found myself sitting in the med unit waiting room with someone VERY senior to me - I imagine it could be hard to keep your personal life personal at a place like this.

So far, I've gotten to experience the Foreign Service on two extreme scales - a teeny tiny post in the middle of nowhere, and one of the world's largest posts in one of the world's largest cities. I feel a little like Goldilocks, waiting to discover a nice mid-size post that fits just right. Preferably one in a place that's not too hot, not too cold, and where there's a really good dry cleaner.

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